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historical question about CASE
Date: Fri, 5 Jun 87 11:19:20 MDT
From: email@example.com (Sandra J Loosemore)
While porting some code between CL implementations, I got bit by the fine
print in the manual about how NIL was not allowed as a singleton key in
CASE, as it could be confused with an empty key list. It's easy enough
to wrap a pair of parentheses around the NIL, but I got to thinking that
an empty key list is not very interesting anyway. Does anyone remember why
it was decided to treat NIL as a list instead of a symbol in this context?
I don't remember specifically, but I would guess that it is for the
benefit of macros that take a lists of things and turn them into case
clauses. For example:
(defmacro do-something (thing &key allow-list ignore-list complain-list)
(,allow-list (frob-thing ,thing))
(,complain-list (error "I won't frob ~S!" ,thing))))
By the way, this is probably a good time to remind people that if they
write macros that make a case clause out of each element of a list, they
should always make them be lists of one element, not singleton keys.
Here's a trivial example:
(defmacro my-case (object &rest clauses)
"Like CASE, but only takes singleton keys."
`(case .,(loop for (key . consequent) in clauses ;I know it isn't CL LOOP
collect `((,key) .,consequent))))